I also say weight because I select hammocks that are low on weight. Even the biggest hammock I have tested (the Hennessy Explorer A-Sym) weighs less than the standard solo tents. There are some hammock models out there that weight a lot more, but that is your choice as what to carry. But the absolute lightest camping hammock with bug protection and rain fly is less than a pound, the absolute lightest tent that gives bug protection weighs twice that.
Excellent article and replies. I have been using a hammock since I was in scouts back in the late ’80s. The old fishnet style hammocks. Now I own four ENO double nest hammocks and routinely take my son and his friends to teach them how to use a hammock instead of a tent. I even took my hammock on my deployments with the military. We called them our hanging hooches.
These rainflys can be set up by creating a ridgeline above your hammock to suspend the tarp. The tarp is draped over the ridgeline. It is then tied in place with either some cord or a hook to keep the fly taught on both ends. Guylines pull the sides of the fly down and keep them in place. Just like a tent. Depending on the weather conditions, you can adjust the tarp accordingly. Keep it more open when there’s a light drizzle or pull the sides in if you’re facing a massive squall.
Just finished up day 4 on our JMT thru-hike!! The weather has been lovely, our packs are feeling good, and we’re very excited for what lies ahead. At the moment we’re chillin at Red’s Meadow on mile 60 of the trail. Eating some good food and enjoying a cold brewski. About 160 miles left in our journey, which we’re expecting will take about 12-13 more days. Hope all is well in your world!! . #jmt2018 #johnmuirtrail
Good information. I learned the insulation aspect of hammock camping my first time out. It’s hard to sleep with a cold but. I know you don’t like home made items, but my budget couldn’t afford a $200 under quilt. I took a black poncho liner I found in a hunting store and had it sewn in half lengthwise. The seamstress also added a couple of 1″ channels along each side and I used shock cord and cord locks from the camping store to fashion the hanging system. Works great. I’ve tested it down to 30 degrees coupled with a 30 degree sleeping bag and sleeping in my base layer. Stayed toasty all night. I bought a compression sack and can stuff my entire sleeping system, hammock, under quilt and tarp into one smallish bag that weighs about four pounds.
Top quilts are just plain comfy. Since they don’t have a full zipper (or any zipper) like a sleeping bag, they make hammock entry and exit easy. Many companies make them, but you can also make one yourself. Find any cheap, quilt-style sleeping bag, get all set up in your hammock, sling it over you, zip it up to your calves, and let the rest of it lay over you and bunch up on your sides. See? Glorious.
I spent two seasons hiking and backpacking in Glacier and was able to hammock in some sites. But there were other times when there just were not suitable trees at the sites, even if there were some in the area. it’s not like in dispersed camping where you can just keep hiking or set up anywhere you want. Many other sites (especially subalpine) in Glacier are very exposed. Wind and sideblown rain are a hammock’s #1 enemy. If you can’t choose your site, then you can’t find a sheltered spot. Unfortunately, these designated sites are made with tents in mind. I know some people don’t want to follow the rules, but for special places like Glacier, there are good reasons for them.
First and foremost, hanging requires a suspension system, and many models don't come with this essential component. While many manufacturers sell compatible suspension systems, quite a number of options either don't have suspension systems factored into the cost or have poorly designed systems included, such as the rope slings that come with the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter or Bear Butt Double. Many of the expedition models come with suspension systems, such as the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker and Expedition, REI Co-op Flash Air and the ENO SubLink Shelter System (though the Sub7 does not if you buy it on its own). Both Warbonnet models had two optional suspension systems available for an additional cost, or you could choose to purchase just the hammock and attach it to another suspension system.
1. Angle your hammock suspension (rope) at around 30°. Pitching a hammock too tight between anchor points puts an enormous amount of force on the suspension lines and hammock, leading to potential failure (and discomfort). A tight pitch also raises the center of gravity, making the hammock unsteady. Pitching the hammock at 30° ensures you get a deep sag (tip #2).
The main difference 1.0 vs. 1.6 oz, is that the 1.6 oz fabric has a much stiffer, more supportive feel when lie in the hammock. Some people find the 1.0 a bit too stretchy to feel fully supported. I am also 160# and fine with the 1.0 fabric — when I am going super light for daily mileages in the 25 to 30 mile range I take a 1.0 oz hammock. But, when weight is not supercritical I’ll usually grab a 1.4 to 1.6 oz fabric hammock. The firmer 1.6 is more to my liking for full sleep comfort and it is a more durable fabric. So you choice. No bad ones.
A backpacker doesn’t need an excuse to go backpacking. But this trip felt more urgent than others. I had been working at a crowded biological research station in the Appalachians of North Carolina, eating, sleeping, and snoring with a dozen others in close quarters. Spilling 12 servings of boiling spaghetti in my lap was the last straw. I needed to excuse myself from communal living for a while.
Dispersed camping is permitted in other zones like the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack High Peaks, and Aspen Four Pass Loop. But the number of promising ground sites is naturally limited — there is too much topographic relief and vegetation. In combination with the area’s popularity, the campsites become heavily impacted, and sleep quality is not as good as it could be.
I think what gets tricky here is the difference between a catenary angle and a straight line angle. When you measure the angle you want the hammock in a straight line. I usually put a small item in my hammock to tighten up the line without weighing it down too much. It’s a little more art than science. The calculator and thumb-finger methods are starting points but don’t take into account fabric type and stretch with all the components, all of which affect the final angle, which is what we are estimating. If you find the hang angle is too slack, tighten it up. Fiddle a little until you find the right hang angle for your hammock.
Manufacturers of underquilts usually provide some sort of compression sack, too. They compress into the sack a great deal when storage in a pack is at a premium. They are lightweight, easy to compress, easy to fluff, easy to hang, and provide excellent protection from cold and wind. I like underquilts because they allow me to enjoy the soft feel of the hammock fabric while still providing warmth beneath me. No pads to mess with, no fidgeting or adjusting at night, don't have to worry about compressing the material, etc.
Sleeping bags are popular insulation solutions and can be a cheap alternative to underquilts. However, sleeping bags aren't the best solution since the insulation is compressed by the weight of the hanger thus depleting the fullness of the insulation material. It may seem that I'm knocking sleeping bags. It might surprise you to know that I frequently use sleeping bags as my insulation of choice.
Lightweight and space saving. Camping hammocks like the Hennessey include a rain fly and mosquito netting, and yet still weigh under 3 lbs. It’s so comfy you can forgo the pillow and sleeping pad you would have brought in order to sleep comfortably in your tent too. And the great thing about camping hammocks is that you can break them into individual components and only take the things you need. If you’re camping in a warm, bug-free area on a clear night, for example, all you’ll need to bring is something like the Grand Trunk Double Parachute, which weighs only 28 ounces, and packs down to the size of a softball.
Bring warmer sleeping clothes and invest in a warmer sleeping quilt. One thing to remember about hammock camping is you’re going to be colder up in the air than you would be on the ground, thanks to the air passing over and beneath you as you hang. So bundle up a little and invest in an Underquilt and/or Topquilt rated for colder weather, like 20–30 degrees, to be sure of staying warm and toasty all night. Check out more info on Hammock Insulation in our post, “Hammock Insulation – Bags vs. Quilts.”
Experience a level of comfort on the trail almost as good as your bed at home and maybe even better. The patented asymmetrically shaped hammock supports your back like a quality mattress off the ground. Tall or large campers and campers with injuries, arthritis, bone spurs or back pain tell us about finding their first night of comfortable camping in many years with the larger Explorer Deluxe or Safari Deluxe models. You will wake up in the morning feeling great. Some owners of Hennessy Hammocks claim that they come home from their adventure feeling better than when they left. Some hikers have tossed out their beds when they got home from a hike and set up their hammock in the house.
I use the “cowboy finger gun technique” the index finger is the barrel, the thumb stuck up in the air is the hammer…… when the barrel is held level, the angle from the end of the barrel (finger) to the tip of the raised hammer (thumb) will be very close to 30 degrees…. simply look at your finger gun in relation to your hanging hammock to see if your suspension is close.